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Penn State Football: Gillikin Had Historic Year, Even If He Wasn't Pleased With It

by on December 20, 2018 2:15 PM

The funny thing about punting, what it looks like is almost as important as where it ends up.

You send a bomb 50-feet into the air and 50-yards down the field and that's going to be hard to ignore.

A knuckler that goes the same distance but does half of its traveling on the ground, rolling and skipping down the field? Well you're allowed the groan as it makes it way to the 20.

And there has been a little bit of both for Penn State punter Blake Gillikin who is having himself a season of both good and bad. Those 50-yard bombs and those 50-yard rollers. The pretty punts and the ugly shanks. It has all been there.

On paper there's a certain irony when it comes to how Gillikin's season has been perceived by everyone -himself included- and what he has actually done.

So far he has punted 60 times for 2588 yards, an average of 43.13 yards a punt. That's the fifth best punting season in Penn State history, just behind his 2017 mark of 43.15 yards a kick.

Oh and his career average? Heading into this season Gillikin had hoisted punts in the air 113 times for 4855 yards to the tune of 42.96 yards a punt.

But now even that number has gone up to. Over the span of his career Gillikin is now averaging 43 yards a punt right on the dot, and that is good enough to tie with George Reynolds for second best all-time on the career list at Penn State. Both are just .13 yards a kick behind Jeremy Boone.

So what gives? Well for one, Gillikin had a streak of 16 punts over two games against Ohio State and Michigan State, that's the most he has had to punt over eight quarters in his entire career. In general Gillikin has punted six or more times in a single game on five occasions this year. In 2017 that happened just twice.

The more punts, the more chances you have for error. It's standing up at the tee trying to hit a perfect drive every single time. And ask Tiger Woods, that's not easy.

Whatever you might think of Gillikin's season, he certainly isn't happy with it, which in the end might be what matters most.

"I think probably compared to my other two seasons it was probably the roughest, probably the most up and down. I might have gotten a little complacent with my training," Gillikin said earlier this month. "Back half of the season I've kind of picked it up and gotten back to what I used to do really well, which is controlling the game and controlling the returner. It has been important to me to pick it up in the back half of the season so I can get ready for next season as well."

"If you don't do your drill work you can taper off in certain areas, you might not spend as much time in certain areas if you feel like you're doing well and I feel like that's what happened."

It's hard to argue with Gillikin's assessment of his season, but if an up and down 2018 leads to the fifth best year as a Penn State punter ever, just imagine what might happen if he's on all cylinders again in 2019.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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